“I’M no psychic,” modestly asserts David Bone (Letters, July 17), but then his crystal ball “sees” an election on the horizon, and tells him that one of the only two parties big enough to form a Westminster government, is at best, a “fever dream”. Mr Bone also foresees Sir Keir Starmer as the next Prime Minister, even though his popularity is measured (YouGov) at 22 per cent, with 68% either disliking him or neutral about his qualities.

A new Tory leader may give that party a “bounce” and a quick election before the economy deteriorates (interest rates will go up, to combat inflation – putting the economy into recession) further. The next election looks a very tight race, with the Tories having to lose a barrowload of seats to opposition parties for Labour to win; a big ask.

Labour has astonishingly stated it will not work with the SNP, easily Scotland's most popular party, even though it works with the SDLP in Ireland and Plaid in Wales. Perhaps it likes being in opposition.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


THERE is a memorable quote in Alice In Wonderland, "You're nothing but a pack of cards". Throughout the Lewis Carroll classic, Alice tries to apply rational understanding to irrational circumstances (the First Minister will relate to that). It is also analogous to Scotland for, as Alice matures, she realises Wonderland is an illusion. We once held the childlike belief that the UK was an equal partnership of nations, a view long discredited.

In the classic, the King of Hearts concocts "Rule 42 "whereby Alice has become too big for the little court. The Queen of Hearts calls for a sentence before the verdict. Alice respects the nebulous jury as members of the Establishment. She has accepted that, while children are open-minded, adults need rules to which they then blindly adhere and rarely challenge.

Rule 42, surely, equates to Westminster being sovereign.We can forget our Declaration Of Arbroath 1320; Claim Of Right 1689; Treaty Of Union 1707; Lord Cooper ruling 1953; The Claim Of Right 1989; and the Scottish Parliament 1999. All are trumped; nothing to see here; move on; just archaic arguments. Some of the Scottish media acquiesces.We need rules: we do not challenge as Alice learned.

As for Alice's Queen demanding sentence, the UK Supreme Court will conclude "The answer is no and we are the State". I can still hear the retort of Canon Kenyon Wright: "Well, we say yes and we are the people."

Is it not faintly ludicrous that Rishi Sunak (from Southampton), Liz Truss (from Oxford) or, indeed, Sir Keir Starmer (from London) can tell Scotland, one of the most historic nations of Europe,with 5.6 million people and two-thirds the size of England, whether they will deign to grant us self-determination, a fundamental right under the UN Charter?

"We are all quite mad," said the Cheshire Cat. The House of Cards may yet topple, undermined by the Knave.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing.


I NOTE another excellent article from Iain Macwhirter (“If Tories pick a fairy-tale candidate they’ll be out of power for a generation”, July 17). He has it right again about Brexit being a rebellion by the "left-behinds" in English towns because they believed that their secure jobs disappearing was the fault of "supranational bodies like the EU". That is, it was the fault of Brussels.

Well, they were very cleverly fed that line with umpteen lies, and led to believe that by a lying, devious Westminster Government which wanted to deflect criticism and lay the blame elsewhere, when the blame lay squarely on the shoulders of successive Tory governments.

Now with the benefit of a little hindsight we can see that the blame did indeed lie with the UK Government, nowhere else.

What could we in Scotland possibly do about that? Well, let me think.

George Archibald, West Linton.


LORD Frederick North was not the worst British Prime Minister ever (Letters, July 17).

Robert Walpole, in office from 1721 to around 1742 (the latter date is not certain, presumably because he continued to exert influence in the ensuing years) was advised by the Duke of Argyll that a Jacobite rising could be averted if he would arrange, as others had done, for the disinterested clan chiefs each to be released from their decades-old oath of allegiance to King James. Walpole ignored him, thus ensuring that the Rising originated in Downing Street rather than Glenfinnan.

Relationships between the Duke and those labelled Jacobites were very good, to the extent that great care was taken for the Scots on both sides not to fire on each other. At Culloden, this was evidenced by the fact that his regiment was allowed to hunker down behind a wall on the Jacobite right so they would not catch any stray musket balls. In return, they did not engage in enfilading fire, thus allowing the Chisholms, Frasers and others to remain intact and hit the enemy line to well-documented effect.

Walpole then plumbed new depths by allowing Cumberland to loot much of Scotland and then tearing up part of the fairly new Treaty of Union. Under the treaty, then as now, a person’s crimes committed in Scotland were to be tried in Scotland unless outweighed by his/her crimes committed in England. My kinsman, Major Donald MacDonell of Tirnadrish (as it is now spelled) had never taken part in “the trip to Derby”, so his trial and execution in Carlisle was merely Westminster-sponsored murder. A few months ago, I went to pay homage to him at the hanging site on Harraby Hill, but there was nothing there to mark the event.

George F Campbell, Glasgow.


"BACK Off Scotland is a group of ordinary young women who have had enough of fundamentalist Christians staging protests outside abortion clinics," wrote Neil Mackay ("How Scotland’s campaigning women are taking on religious fundamentalists against abortion", July 17). As a retired GP, and an ordained evangelist, I see no justification for confrontational pro-life protests beside abortion clinics.

The NHS website's Dating Scan shows an unborn human at about three months: a public, private and prophetic image. It is prophetic because parents have terminated terminations after seeing a scan. "Baby's 1st Scan" is an ornamental picture frame used in private homes. NHS Dating Scan is a publicly available image from a reliable source. Abortion becomes a black and white issue when I look at it for a few seconds.

I would strongly question the value of anyone standing for hours by a clinic holding a placard with the words "Abortion is murder". Should Scottish churches challenge Back Off Scotland with a campaign called Dating Scan Scotland?

JT Hardy, Belfast.

• THE Catholic Church’s concern for the lives of the human beings threatened with abortion is justifiable.

The idea that abortion is “safe” is absurd. It means the certain death of the aborted one. How is that “safe”?

The claim that abortion is “anti-woman” is ridiculous. At least half of the human beings who are aborted are female. The mention of “reproductive rights” is laughable. Abortion destroys reproduction. That abortion comes under the “health” service is a cynical perversion of language.

The linking of the pro-life movement with such bogeymen as Donald Trump or Jacob Rees-Mogg is just a smear tactic, implying that those who care for the as-yet unborn are powerful people. They are not. The power lies with the Government and the mass media that promote abortion.

John Kelly, Edinburgh.


ANDY Stenton and P Davidson (Letters, July 17) write in favour of illegal immigration.

Crossing the Channel by rubber boat is illegal. Most of the young men involved, after paying thousands to traffickers, or turning their lives over to gangmasters, throw their mobiles over the side, and tear up their identity documents. Is this the sort of person we should welcome with open arms? Yet we do.

Britain has long welcomed legal immigrants into the country and many, as P Davidson explains, have made a big contribution to society. Boris Johnson initiated a programme to help genuine asylum seekers from the Ukraine. The Conservative Party leadership race proves the point, with four ethnic candidates standing, and Penny Mordaunt has taken in a Ukrainian family. But we cannot allow the unidentified to break the law, and as Clark Cross said in a previous letter, there will be criminals amongst them, if not terrorists. It's happened before and will happen again.

The idea that these people are "fleeing persecution, poverty and war" is risible. Perhaps if the 10,000 illegals who have landed at Dover and Folkstone this year, courtesy of the Border Force and the RNLI, had landed at Stranraer or Girvan, your correspondents would take a different view.

William Loneskie, Lauder.

• NO matter how they dress up the escalating Channel migrant situation, Andy Stenton and P Davidson are in the minority who think the UK should house, feed and provide health care and welfare benefits to the world's waifs and strays.

It is particularly telling that neither responded to the fact that 96,060 households and 121,680 children in the UK are in temporary accommodation. The latest estimate is that 14,777 people have crossed the Channel this year and that figure is anticipated to reach 60,000 this year. If they were genuine asylum seekers they would have sought "safe haven" in any one of the 27 EU countries and applied for asylum status. They would then be free to obtain a visa for the UK or country of their choice.

Instead they paid traffickers thousands of pounds to get them to the UK, the land flowing with milk and honey, free housing and as one migrant said, very little chance of being deported thanks to our legal aid system which makes rich asylum lawyers even richer.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.